Orange Watch: NCAA transfer portal alters look of Syracuse basketball

Boston College 12-12-20
Dec 12, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Alan Griffin (0) shoots the ball over Boston College Eagles guard Makai Ashton-Langford (4) during the second half at Conte Forum. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Item: Following the season ending loss to Houston in the Sweet 16, Jim Boeheim alluded to the changes that will be coming to the program’s 2021-22 roster, both additions and subtractions. The new transfer portal era in college basketball allowing for immediate eligibility, means there’s an influx of Syracuse players testing the waters to ascertain if the “grass is greener” (more playing time awaits) somewhere else.

It didn’t take long. Two days after the season finale, already two Syracuse players, John Bol Ajak and Robert Braswell on Monday announced their intention to enter the portal, and according to multiple reports, Quincy Guerrier plans to test the NBA waters before making a decision on his playing future.




Now speculation amongst Orange Nation centers around whether Woody Newton, Frank Anselem, and perhaps Alan Griffin will join Ajak and Braswell in the portal.

“We’ll have guys leave, it’s what’s going to happen,” Jim Boeheim said after the season’s last game, correctly predicting the future. “In the next two to three weeks, as things happen, we’re going to have to adjust to it and start recruiting in the transfer portal because we’ll have guys in there.”

It was a pipe dream that all the anticipated returnees on the Orange basketball roster would decide to stay put for next season. Even with the losses of the players mentioned above, SU will be in pretty good shape talent-wise with a veteran squad that won two NCAA tournament games, and some experienced college players expected to transfer in reverse to the ‘Cuse from other programs.

At last look, there was some 175 Division I players (including Cornell’s Jimmy Boeheim) who had submitted their names into the portal. Once a player makes a transfer request, his school has two business days to list the transaction in the national database, and then prospective new schools can begin to make contact.

Projecting the loss of big men Bourama Sidibe and Marek Doelzaj (although each have a year of eligibility remaining), Syracuse will seemingly have at least two starters back (Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard), and its top two bench players (Jesse Edwards, and Kadary Richmond), along with early signing period recruit Benny Williams, the highly-regarded 6’8” wing forward from Florida’s IMG Academy.

That’s a five-player nucleus following a season in which Boeheim settled on an eight-man rotation.

However, other than Buddy Boeheim’s insistence that he would be back for his senior season, as we’ve already seen with Monday’s transactions, nothing else is certain.

“I’ve seen 50 or 60 starters that have left programs in the last week to 10 days,” Boeheim said last weekend. “Being able to transfer and play right away means if you have any issue at all, any issue, you’re going to leave.”

“We lost three guys (last year), three guards (Brycen Goodine, Jalen Carey, Howard Washington). And none of those three played anywhere where they went. But that’s what’s going to happen.”

(Note: Goodine played in 16 of Providence’s 26 games, Carey played in 23 of Rhode Island’s 25 games, while Washington opted out of the season at South Alabama.)

» Related: Which players from Syracuse are most likely to enter the portal?

The flip side is Boeheim and his assistants will have their own new targets to bring on board. It’s a longtime tactic of finding unheralded players the staff can develop during their college careers, coming in the spring recruiting period, with the transfer portal now added to the mix of available options.

“I’m really happy with Jesse’s development and Joe and Buddy and Kadary, the way they played,” Boeheim capsulized about his returning core group. “I think we have a great player coming in (Williams) with great potential. But we’re going to get somebody else, and I think we’re going to lose players. That’s reality.”

Which also brings much anticipation of the potential roster makeup on the horizon for ‘Cuse basketball, in the upcoming final season of Buddy Boeheim playing for his father.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.